Agency officials expect to begin public meetings to gather input on where expanded bus and rail lines might go in late June.
But the critical public response – the money to fund preferred projects via a voter referendum – likely is 18 months away, Metropolitan Transit Authority officials said.
“The community input process is going to take a lot of time,” said Carrin Patman, chairwoman of the Metro board, calling the chances of asking voters to approve a bond issue this year “unrealistic.”
“My guess is it would not be before November 2018,” Patman said.
The timeline is less rosy than predicted when the regional transit plan was rolled out in February, when Patman and others said a vote this November remained a possibility.
The regional transit plan, meanwhile, could be approved by the Metro board next summer, after a series of meetings with riders and those who rarely interact with transit.
Metro officials held 13 meetings with agency employees to solicit ideas from bus and rail operators about what improvements are most needed. That feedback, CEO Tom Lambert said, confirmed what many officials already have said about the need to improve bus stops and shelters and make minor adjustments to routes to improve service.
Also key to the plan as officials prep for meetings in late June is soliciting comment from people in places where bus service is nonexistent, board members said.
“Historically, the meetings have been held in places where Metro is already operating service,” said vice-chairman Jim Robinson.
Attracting suburban interest for transit, and properly prioritizing it with other needs, is an important part of the plan, officials said.
See here, here, and here for some background. In an ideal world, I’d have preferred to see this ready to go this November, as there are a lot of needs to plan for and the sooner we begin the better. But I’d also rather get this right than rush it, and there’s certainly a case for not putting this on a ballot that will be dominated by the revenue cap referendum. Which is not to say that 2018 will be better – there will be far more races on the ballot, if nothing else – but it is a reasonable choice. Let’s get the best plan we can, with a compelling vision for the future, and begin selling it with an eye for next year. KUHF has more.